From Training to Action: Reflections on the GOFC-GOLD Data Training Initiative

asia_philippines_manila_slumIn July and August, eight GOFC-GOLD Fellows from around the world participated in the Global Observation of Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Data Training Initiative to improve their use of remotely sensed Earth observations, such as NASA Landsat data.

The first week involved a training session held at the USGS EROS Center in South Dakota, which is the global leader in the distribution and application of earth observation data, and especially Landsat data. The Fellows accessed, downloaded, and compiled regional and country-level data sets on land cover and fire observations. Fellows then applied their datasets during a two-week course at the Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, in Massachusetts to map and monitor landscape change.

A critical component of training activities is moving from lessons learned to action through sharing of data, training of other researchers or practitioners, or integrating skills into on-the-ground research. The following are reflections on how Fellows will share their training:

John Isaac Molefe
University of Botswana
Botswana currently does not have a critical mass of trained people who can take advantage of the freely-available remote sensing and GIS data. Therefore, in my teaching at University of Botswana, I will use my new skills to upgrade courses as a means to improve student skills for using Geospatial information. This will be one more step towards the development of the critical mass of trained people! Another important task will be to engage other Botswana institutions as shareholders in order for them to be able to tap into the data. This includes the Department of Surveys and Mapping, the Department of Town and Regional Planning, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology and the College of Agriculture at the University of Botswana. The last thing that I hope to accomplish is to advance independent research projects by using my sharpened skills in monitoring Land Use/Land Cover Change in Botswana.
Lucie Cervena
PhD candidate
Charles University
My first activities when I return to Charles University in Prague will be to give a short course to my fellow faculty members about Landsat and Land Cover Change Detection. Then I will develop a course for students with a focus on Landsat data characteristics, as well as the process for obtaining and interpreting the freely-available USGS/EROS maps that document changes in land cover. I will update the curriculum of an undergraduate academic course on Remote Sensing based on the information that I learned at the Data Initiative Workshops. I will also use the data and knowledge to prepare suggestions for new topics for Bachelor’s theses, which will be focused on nature protection in cooperation with Czech National Park Administration.
Yuvenal Pantelo Mtui
Forest Certification Manager, Mapingo Conservation and Development Initiative
Attending the 2014 GOFC-GOLD Data Initiative Remote Sensing Training workshop provided me with better access to accurate land cover data with which to identity and map burn scars following seasonal fires. This will enable us to: (1) generate better estimates of the area of forest protected from late season fires as a result of communal early burning operations, and (2) make better-informed strategic decisions about where to perform early burning in coming years, both locally in the community forests where we already operate, and on a broader scale in terms of where to expand our REDD project for the greatest impact in the future.
Sandeep Kumar Pakatamuri
Research Scholar
Anna University
First of all, I want to acknowledge that it was a privilege to be allowed to use state-of-the-art equipment at Sioux Falls and at Boston. I was able to download 2 Tb of data in just five days at Sioux Falls! The data represents most parts of my region that were collected over a time range from the beginnings of the Landsat program to the most recently collected data. But more importantly, the science behind the Landsat imagery acquisition, processing, archiving and distribution were explained in a way that helps me to interpret and use the data more effectively. I am presently working on a project titled “Impact of climate change on land use/land cover dynamics and sustainable socio-economic development”. The deeper understanding of the science will help me with social science applications. My work at the University puts me in regular contact with undergraduate and master’s students. I will encourage them to use free satellite imagery to enhance their academic projects and dissertations. And lastly, I intend to reach out and share data and applications with various groups in South India, including the Institute of Remote Sensing, Centre for Water Resources, Institute of Ocean Management, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research.

For more information about the 2014 GOFC-GOLD Data Training Initiative, visit